A typical owner of a small business is likely to be over 40, male and not in it for the money, according to the latest small firms survey from the British Chamber of Commerce.
The survey also found that more women than men were likely to start their own business to avoid unemployment.
Most of those questioned cited independence as the main attraction for setting up on their own, with only seven per cent motivated by money.
But the report revealed that a lack of funding often led to the inclusion of external shareholders, eroding a sole trader's independent status.
The results of the survey also showed that a third of small companies felt misinformed when it came to understanding the Companies Act. The majority felt there should be a separate Companies Act for small firms, and nearly all agreed that setting up a business should be made more difficult.
The report said: 'Many smaller companies are concerned about the number of closures, and how this reflects on small businesses in the market.'
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